By Benito Vila
In November, eleven teams and their parents came together in the Pierson High School auditorium to celebrate the school’s fall athletic program. The scene was somewhat chaotic and unfamiliar to many, the ceremony being a first-time event, the administration opting to provide closure on those seasons then rather than waiting until the spring.
Last Thursday, the winter awards were staged in much the same fashion, but with just five coaches joining athletic director Montgomery Granger, principal Jeff Nichols and superintendent Dr. John Gratto on the dais, it seemed a more private and certainly a much more familiar affair.
In his opening remarks, Granger spoke about the role athletics plays in education, how student athletes put into practice the same fundamental skill sets required in the classroom, primarily those of cooperation and commitment. He also pointed out how in the course of a season, student athletes learn the value of communication in balancing schedules at home and in playing as a unit.
Before moving into the coaches’ portion of the program, Granger took the opportunity to read from The Sag Harbor Express’ coverage of a report issued by New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYPHSAA) on the damaging and self-limiting effects of teen alcohol use.
In closing, Granger pointedly said to the athletes gathered, “If you’re partying and you come against someone who isn’t partying, they will beat you.” He also reminded parents of the Suffolk County Social Host ordinance, which specifies criminal penalties if an adult allows minors to consume alcohol on their property.
Optimism and Praise
While that direct message may have taken some aback, it did little to dampen the spirit in the room. Perhaps having the 15 varsity cheerleaders present had something to do with that or perhaps it was Granger’s announcement the spring awards would include all the fall and winter teams and feature the traditional year-end slide show.
Before turning the program over to the Pierson coaches, Granger praised the commitment of those student athletes participating in the shared sports program at East Hampton High School, donning maroon to play on the Bonackers’ swimming, bowling, track and wrestling teams.
He also cited the efforts of the Pierson students who played for the Bonac football program in the fall and thanked all the student athletes for reminding the community what it takes to be a “winner at life.”
Teams, Names and Awards
With each of the wintertime Pierson coaches coming up to talk about their teams, a more comfortable laughter returned to the room. Each coach introduced their teams and recounted key moments in the season that either brought the team together or made an indelible mark in their memory.
At the end of those remarks the coaches issued team awards, as follows:
Boys’ Varsity Basketball: Coach Christian Johns. Most Improved Player (MIP): Dylan Hmielenski; Coach’s Award (CA): Luke Kirrane; Most Valuable Player: Tyler Gilbride.
Girls’ Varsity Basketball: Coach Dennis Case. MIP: Kaci Koehne; Co-MVPs: Sarah Barrett, Samantha James.
Varsity Cheerleading: Coach Vicki Florence. MIP: Guila Mascali; CA: Sophie Thorner; MVP: Aura Skerys.
Boys’ JV Basketball: Coach Jonathan Tortorella. MIP: Raliegh Gordley; the Michael Heller Coach’s Award: Aidan Kirrane; MVP: Patrick Sloane.
Girls’ JV Basketball: Coach Kevin Barron. MIP: Holly Zappola; CA: Katherine Matthers; MVP: Kasey Gilbride.